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“Great Way to Spend an Afternoon!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum
5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles, OR 97058
+1 541-296-8600
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Top Rated
$215*
and up
Columbia Gorge Adventure from Portland
Ranked #1 of 15 Attractions in The Dalles
Type: History Museums, Museums
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: The 48,200 sq. ft. facility won an American Institute of Architects Honor Award for its appealing design. The Center is situated on a 54-acre point of land adjacent to the Columbia River and the Historic Columbia River Highway. The site provides walking trails, a pond, and scenic overlooks. Its location in The Dalles, Oregon is an ecosystem transition zone, facilitating the interpretation of both the rain forest west of the Cascade Mountains and the arid region to the east. Live raptor education programs engage all ages in issues related to habitat preservation. The area includes one of the oldest continuously occupied areas in North America (over 11,000 years), immediate proximity to one of the largest rivers on the continent, and access to the Lewis and Clark and Oregon Trails. The multimedia, interactive museum inspires appreciation and stewardship of the natural and cultural treasures of the Gorge and Wasco County. Exhibits focus on the volcanic upheaval and raging floods that created the Gorge, the unique flora and fauna of the region, and eleven thousand years of cultural history. Collections include hundreds of American Indian baskets from throughout the Pacific Northwest, photo archives (partially available on-line), and local genealogical files available in the William G. Dick Library. In addition to touring the many fascinating exhibits, visitors can spend time viewing films in the theater located on site. If you plan to spend the day at the Discovery Center and Museum, you can relax during a lunch or coffee break at the Basalt Rock Cafe.
Hood River
1 review
“Great Way to Spend an Afternoon!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2011

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center is a great place to learn about the history of the Gorge in an interactive environment. Exhibits are interesting and arranged in an easy to follow flow pattern. You can learn a lot in a short amount of time, but would learn something new each time you visit. It is clean and personnel is friendly and helpful.

The food in the café was tasty, healthy and reasonably priced.

Visited September 2011
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123 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
San Diego, California
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“A great little 'museum'”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 3, 2011

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center is a small but well laid out museum focusing on the local area with a strong emphasis on Lewis and Clark. We also really enjoyed the 'animal encounter' experience where we got to see a Red-tailed Hawk and a Great Horned Owl up close.

Visited September 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Florence, OR
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Wonderful and fun. Great family activity.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 15, 2011

I have taken my children several times to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and they always enjoy it immensely, as do I. Often they have a birds of prey exhibit, and our last visit was no exception. Visitors were able to see at very close range 2 American kestrals and a red tailed hawk.

The center itself is beautiful. Not only are the exhibits fascinating and fun, the Wasco County museum is included in the building, and there is a cafe, theaters, and a wonderful play room for the kids that includes a sandbox (complete wtih bones and fossils to find!), dress up clothing to allow the children to role play, a fun ship play house and a model ship that allows children to learn about ballast. Additionally thre are puzzles and other activities and things for the kids to experience; my children are now almost 8 and 9, and this is still their favorite part of the trip.

That would be wonderful in and of itself, but there are also EXTENSIVE paved trails around the center and along the gorge. Native plants are identified and thre are interesting exhibits (tipi poles for example, and various buildings) along the trail. Of course the scenery is breathtaking.

This is desert country, however, and a word of caution...if you intend to walk it is best to be prepared for extreme heat. The paved walkways are too much for a dog on a hot day (it was 100 degrees the last time we were there, we left the dog in the running car with the air conditioner, it was too much for him) and I don't think think there are any fountains along the way. Likewise, in winter it will be cold, slick, and windy, as it is in the gorge. But this is a worthwhile stroll to take (and as far as I can see, wheelchair accessible). Kids under 7 are free, otherwise adults are $8 for the whole thing, and my kids were $4 each. It's well worth it. It would be easy to spend several hours there. I recommend it to all visitors, and also to locals who are certain to learn something new.

Visited September 2011
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Hawaii
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“Excellent museum-you could spend hours here!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2011

I went to this museum based upon other reviews and I must say, it is a great museum! The theater shows films ranging from the Oregon Trail, the Old Columbia River highway, to Lewis and Clark. The exhibits are very well designed and written. Plus, you cannot miss the gorgeous scenery just outside the museum. There is so much to do here that you can easily spend half a day, if not more here.

Visited July 2011
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Portland, Oregon
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“This place was amazing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2011 via mobile

Visited for the first time yesterday. This is a treasure. Must for your family. We were filming a tv show there and was informed about all the great history. Check them out!

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